For the first time, members of The BUILD Health Challenge’s funding collaborative share the story of how BUILD was created, the challenges and opportunities they encountered in launching it, and the lessons learned. “Is More Always Better? A Reflection on the Dynamic Nature of Nationally and Regionally Focused Funder Collaboratives is now available to read in the Foundation Review.  

In 2014, the national conversation on health and healthcare was in large part focused on the Affordable Care Act and the opportunities it would bring with it in addressing the social determinants of health. For many, this context would inspire a new wave of programs and strategies designed to support communities looking to tackle the root causes of chronic disease. For five leaders from the Colorado Health Foundation, the de Beaumont Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Advisory Board Companyit would lead to the creation of The BUILD Health Challenge®.  

Author, Jo Carcedo previews the article exploring BUILD’s creation and evolution.

Author, Jo Carcedo previews the article exploring BUILD’s creation and evolution. 


In just seven months, the five leaders would coalesce around an idea, raise funding, develop program concepts, and issue a call for applications. BUILD became a national awards program advancing multi-sector, community-driven partnerships to drive sustainable improvements in community health and address systemic and social inequities. Since the launch of its first cohort in 2015, BUILD has grown to include 16 national and regional funders that have invested more than $20 million, supported 55 communities, and informed the broader health field with its learnings. 


Through focus groups, a survey of funders, and reflective conversations, BUILD has documented the evolving composition, practice, and needs of this group. While funder collaboratives have long existed elsewhere, BUILD is the first one, to our knowledge, designed to include both national and regional partners. This unique structure allows participants to tailor the program to their regional contexts, while creating challenges regarding governance, financing, and communication. This dynamic allows regional philanthropies to help set the national agenda and inform national philanthropies as to what works locally and how to enact that work. Collectively, each philanthropy leverages its resources to build that which would otherwise not be possible.